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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


Lux: Comey’s Innuendo Will Backfire, Energize Democrats

The following article by Democratic strategist Mike Lux, author of The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be, is cross-posted from HuffPo:

I have been involved in politics a long time, knocking on doors as a kid in the first presidential race I was involved in for George McGovern back in 1972. I am also a student of American history, enough that I wrote a book about it. There have been a lot of strange and wild things in the history of American politics, but nothing even close to what happened last Friday with FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress about Hillary’s e-mails. His abuse of power defies Department of Justice policy and the Hatch Act, and threatens the integrity of this election by using the FBI as a political tool. It’s one of the more outrageous things I’ve ever seen in politics — and I just lived through more than a year of Donald Trump running for president!

But Comey’s gift-wrapped package to Trump and his Republican friends in Congress will likely be a gift that blows up in their faces. Democrats are no longer in any danger of taking anything for granted. We now have something to fire us up to win this election in a powerful rebuke to the good-old-boy politics of the powers that be. We need to tell Comey, Trump, Ryan, McConnell and all the other right-wing Republicans that we are not going to let them take this election away from us.

What we need to focus on this last week of the election is what we’ve always needed to focus on: getting out our voters. And this Comey BS is giving our ground troops renewed passion and focus. Our mission must be to tell voters what this election is really about, which is: What kind of nation we want to be over the next four years? Do we want to move forward on real solutions to the country’s problems, or do we want to descend into racism, nativism, and the worst kind of trickle-down cronyism?

This election isn’t about Comey’s bizarre, inappropriate gamesmanship, or Trump’s demagogic bullying about locking Hillary up when she’s never been charged with a crime. What the 2016 election is about is our future. We are at a fundamental crossroads in American history.

Are we going to do something about climate change or pretend it is a hoax, as Trump claims? Are we going to make college free for most students, as Hillary and Bernie want to do, and help those with college debt reduce it, or turn the country over to a man who created the fraudulent Trump University to lure students deeper into debt? Are we going to raise the minimum wage and empower workers to be able to bargain fairly with their employers, or decide, in Trump’s words, that “the minimum wage is too high”?

Are we going to make the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes and close corporate tax loopholes or give the wealthy and big business the biggest tax cuts they have ever had, as Trump wants to do? Are we going to finally pass comprehensive immigration reform, or build Trump’s wall? Are we going to finally do something about criminal justice reform, or impose Trump’s authoritarian version of “law and order”?

Will Hillary appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn Citizens United and preserve women’s reproductive rights and marriage equality, with a Democratic Senate there to confirm them? Or is Trump going to appoint the kind of people who will do the opposite, with a Republican Senate to confirm them?

Hillary’s transition team is already consulting with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders over who should be appointed if Hillary wins. Trump’s advisers include Chris “Bridge-gate” Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Roger Ailes, and Newt Gingrich. Who should progressives prefer?

Big questions here. Pretty important stuff. We are about to elect a president. And a Senate majority. And the House of Representatives. And Governors. We are about to go to the polls and elect state legislators, county commissioners, mayors, city council members, school board members, and water commission members. All of these elected officials, at all levels, are going to make a huge impact on our lives, and the lives of future generations.

We are at a unique moment in American history, making choices that matter more for our future than any election in our history except maybe 1932, in the worst days of the Great Depression, and 1860, on the verge of the Civil War. In the lead-up to that 1860 election, Abraham Lincoln quoted the book of Mark in the famous Lincoln-Douglass debates, saying, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Lincoln was right about his times and about ours.

Electing Donald Trump and his Republican allies would divide this country fundamentally, and not only stop any forward motion we’ve made in the last few years, but it would move us in reverse. Any chance at doing something significant on climate change, raising wages, student debt, getting tougher on Wall Street — poof, gone. And we would go profoundly backward in terms of economic fairness, civil rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights, and criminal justice. But if Democrats, with the most progressive platform in the history of the Republic, sweep into office, we can begin to make some real progress.

So don’t get distracted, folks. This election is not about whether Hillary Clinton mishandled her emails several years ago. This election is about what direction we go as a nation. This election is about the biggest issues imaginable.

If you are angry about James Comey’s vague, innuendo-laden letter to Congress, don’t get distracted. Use that anger to turn out every vote you can. Knock on doors, make calls, talk to your friends, get on Facebook and Twitter and spread the word. I’ve said it before, I will say it again: it is progressives who hold the fate of this election, and the fate of this country, in their hands.

The swing voters in this election are the young people, people of color, women, and Bernie voters who are trying to decide — not between Hillary and Trump — but between voting and not voting. If progressive activists get those progressives out to vote, we will win this election going away. We have to persuade our friends that the stakes in this election could not be higher. That should be easy, because it is the truth, but it will take work. There are still good people who share your values who need convincing on how much it matters that they vote.

It’s up to us. Let’s get this done.

Greenberg and Carville: Strategy for Maximizing Democratic Gains

The following article by James Carville and Stan Greenberg is cross-posted from DCorps:

Democracy Corps’ new national survey shows Democrats have an opportunity to make significant gains if they have the right strategy in the final weeks of the campaign. This survey came out of the field on Monday night, just in time to arm campaigns, committees and progressive allies with the best strategy for maximizing gains.[1]

This survey shows Clinton with a comfortable double digit lead over Trump (+12), but that lead is not produced not by the “New American Majority” making itself felt.  Rather, her lead has been produced by Trump’s capacity to drive away female and college-educated voters and even seniors. Clinton has a small lead with white married women and is tied with white male college graduates.

True, she is getting landslide margins with white female college graduates and millennials. But the Clinton campaign has not fully consolidated the progressive base of Democrats, Sanders voters, unmarried women and minorities and Democrats have not consolidated their support down ballot. 

This survey gives the Hillary Clinton campaign, House and Senate committees and progressive allies the messages to sharply shift the vote in the final two weeks. They are:

  1. The GOP’s link to Donald Trump as the main attack communicated broadly and to minority voters;
  2. Clinton’s tough economic choice communicated in a targeted way to unmarried women, millennials, Democrats and white working class women.

It will come as good news that the DCCC’s attack linking Republican candidates to Donald Trump produces the best overall result for Democrats, taking them into a 9-point lead against a Republican promising to balance Hillary Clinton. Both the Trump link and the economic contrast messages shift 17 percent of the voters to the Democrats, but the economic contrast moves some anti-Trump Republicans back into the GOP fold (producing only a 6-point Democratic margin).


The Trump association attack does better overall because it produces bigger shifts with independents and Republicans. Minority voters are also more consolidated by the Trump association message.

But advocating for an economy that works for the middle class and attacking the Republican for supporting more trickle-down economics and tax cuts for the richest and corporations, while accepting campaign funding from big oil and Wall Street, produces dramatically bigger shifts with unmarried women, millennials and white working class women.


These two weapons can be deployed together and produce additional shifts that can allow Democrats to win down-ballot. It will also help Hillary Clinton consolidate all the votes that are possible.

[1] This national survey took place October 21-24, 2016.  Respondents who voted in the 2012 election or registered since were selected from the national voter file. Likely voters were determined based on stated intention of voting next month.  Margin of error for the full sample is +/-3.27 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.  Of the 900 respondents, 65 percent were interviewed via cell phone to accurately sample the American electorate.

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Encouraging Clues from Early Voting Reports in Key States

Nate Cohn reports at The Upshot: “Already, about 968,000 people have voted in North Carolina, out of about 4,413,000 we think will eventually vote. Based on the voting history and demographic characteristics of those people, we think Hillary Clinton leads in North Carolina by about 6 percentage points. We think she has an even larger lead – 22 percentage points – among people who have already voted.”

At Politico Kyle Cheney notes, “In Nevada, where early in-person voting began on Saturday, Democratic voters cast 23,000 more ballots than Republicans as of Tuesday afternoon, good for a 15 percentage-point edge in the nearly 150,000 ballots cast. (Mail-in and absentee ballots narrow the gap slightly.)…Polling and early-voting returns suggest Democrats are maintaining an edge in North Carolina, and they are also slicing into a thinner-than-expected early vote lead for Republicans in Florida, who now lead by about half a percentage point; in 2012, the GOP held a much more significant edge two weeks from Election Day.

…In Colorado — where Democrats hold a voter registration edge for the first time — early returns give the party a 23,000-vote lead in returned and in-person ballots. In Arizona, which last went Democratic in 1996, Democrats held a thin early-vote lead on Monday.

Even reliably Republican Texas is sending shudders down GOP spines. In the state’s most heavily populated, Democratic-leaning urban counties, early-voting turnout is surging beyond its historical pace — and new polls suddenly show the unthinkable: Texas is not entirely out of reach for Clinton.”

Hope Yen adds at kmbcnews.com that “In Florida, more than 2 million voters have already returned ballots. In-person voting began Monday, and Democrats have pulled virtually even with Republicans, at 41 percent each. That’s a much faster rate of catch-up than in 2012 and 2008, when Barack Obama won the state…This year’s numbers are troubling for Republicans…”If current early vote trends hold, it’s a real possibility that Clinton can sweep a majority of swing states including Florida,” said Scott Tranter, co-founder of the Republican data analytics firm Optimus.”

So there is some cause for optimism for Dems, but it should be tempered with caution. “Early voting may have a slight potential to affect the outcome of this election,” explains Christianna Silva at FiveThirtyEight.com, “but experts say its predictive value is not particularly high.”

New DCorps Poll Shows Dems Positioned for Big Down-ballot Gains with Clinton’s 12-Point Lead

The following article by Stan Greenberg and James Carville is cross-posted from Democracy Corps:

Tuesday, October 25 2016
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The final pre-election national survey for Democracy Corps shows Clinton moving into a commanding 12-point lead over Trump, getting to 50 percent of the vote as the third party vote is squeezed.[1] This lead is produced by some historic voting patterns and a breathtakingly unpopular Republican Party led by Donald Trump. It is also produced by a country where President Obama’s approval has reached 56 percent and wrong track numbers for the country’s direction have begun to fall.


Critically, the association of GOP candidates with Trump and a closing Democratic economic message have the chance to translate to much larger Democratic margins down-ballot.  After voters hear the simulated campaign play out, Democrats take a 9-point lead in the House ballot, just at the edge of a majority.

Clinton has consolidated 90 percent of Democrats and actually has room to grow. Trump is winning white working class men 57 to 31 percent, but that is not better than Mitt Romney (65 to 32 percent). He is only running even with independents, men, white college educated men and seniors. That allows Clinton to run up the score with women (56 to 33 percent), unmarried women (59 to 31 percent), white college educated women (56 to 30 percent), millennials (59 to 20 percent) and in the suburbs (54 to 36 percent).


The third party vote has been squeezed and Gary Johnson is only getting 5 percent of the four-way ballot. Though it is a small sample size, the remaining Johnson voters are mostly anti-Trump Republicans and they may not vote in the end: just 39 percent report the highest interest in voting, half the level of all likely voters. Jill Stein is only getting 2 percent of the four-way vote and her voters are Democrats.

No one is surprised that Trump emerges with a net favorability of -28 points and 60 percent hold unfavorable views of the GOP nominee. The House Republicans have an even worse image than Trump (-31 unfavorable) and the Republican Party has a -23 point unfavorable image with over half unfavorable (53 percent). With the Democratic Party at parity of positive and negative reactions, the Republicans have a brand problem. That is unlikely to change as only 26 percent of Republicans want their leaders in the next Congress to work with President Clinton to make progress.

There is a chance to translate Clinton’s emerging landslide into a wave down-ballot. In a simulated contest where the Republican congressional candidate argues they are needed as an independent check on Clinton, the Democrats move into a 9-point lead in the congressional match-up after the Republican is attacked.

Overall, the current strategy of linking Republican candidates to Donald Trump and not opposing him produces the biggest overall shift down-ballot. That is an effective message and moves Republicans and independents.

But when Democrats echo the economic message that Clinton used in the debates – vowing to build an economy for everyone and raise taxes on the rich, in contrast with an opponent who wants more trickle-down economics – there is dramatically more consolidation with Democrats and the Rising American Electorate, particularly unmarried women and white unmarried women and millennials. There is room for more consolidation among Democrats down-ballot and at the top of the ticket and this economic message will help Democratic candidates get there.




[1] This national survey took place October 21-24, 2016.  Respondents who voted in the 2012 election or registered since were selected from the national voter file.  Likely voters were determined based on stated intention of voting next month.  Margin of error for the full sample is +/-3.27 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.  Of the 900 respondents, 65 percent were interviewed via cell phone in order to accurately sample the American electorate.

Three Ideas for Clinton in the Final Debate

“With her campaign expanding to compete in traditionally Republican-leaning states and her advantage growing in most of the battlegrounds, Mrs. Clinton is well positioned as the race enters its final days. Because Mrs. Clinton is now so heavily favored to win, the debate offers an opportunity for her to start looking beyond the election and toward unifying a country that has been divided by an ugly campaign…After praising Michelle Obama’s “when they go low, we go high” credo, Mrs. Clinton now has a chance to turn that advice into action. And doing so would not simply be an exercise in high-mindedness to win plaudits from centrist commentators. By vowing to represent all Americans after the election, including Mr. Trump’s supporters, she can also disarm an opponent who relishes confrontation but has little aptitude for conciliation.” — from “Presidential Debate: How Will Trump and Clinton Handle Sexual Assault Allegations?” by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin, Alexander Burns and Alan Rappeport.

“One certain question Clinton will be asked is whether she would renominate Garland to the Scalia vacancy or preserve her right to come up with her own candidate for the Court. And that question could come with a twist: John McCain’s blunt statement this week that Senate Republicans will fight absolutely any nomination Clinton could make for the entire course of her presidency means there is not much point in going with a perceived judicial “moderate” like Garland when a younger, more progressive nominee would attract the same support and arouse the same opposition. But if Clinton does anything tonight other than promise to renominate Garland there will be spin-room shrieking about her constitutional radicalism.” — from Ed Kilgore’s New York Magazine post “Clinton and Trump to Debate SCOTUS.

“While it’s hard to argue with Clinton that the U.S. should be doing more to help those deeply suffering inside Syria, she should explain to the American people how her plan would work in practice. She should also explain the scale and scope of the no-fly zone she’s presenting. Will these safe zones encroach on territory held or coveted by Assad’s regime forces and their allies? If so, how will the U.S. military confront Syrian government and Russian forces that are seeking to protect or take them? Which country’s ground troops will protect the safe zones?”  — from “Clinton Should Say More About Syria: The Democratic nominee should fully lay out her Syria strategy” by Stephen Miles and Michelle Dixon in U.S. News.

2016 Provides Ultimate Test of Quantity vs. Quality in Media Coverage

GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has banked a lot on the old saw that “any publicity is good publicity.” That may be true when selling widgets to suggestable consumers. But Geoffrey Skelley has put the notion to the test in his Crystal Ball post “The Danger of the Political Limelight,” and the results suggest otherwise, at least when one of the candidates is named Donald Trump. Skelley explains:

…Using Gallup data for the question “Did you read, hear, or see anything about Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump in the last day or two?” and comparative Google Trend data for the search terms “Hillary Clinton” and “Donald Trump” in the United States, it really does appear that the candidate receiving more attention tends to struggle more.

Probing “the correlation between the polls and the Gallup data as well as the correlation between the polls and the Google Trends data,” Skelley explains that “First, we compared the Gallup data to the polling averages from HuffPost Pollster and RealClearPolitics, taking the percentage of respondents each day for Gallup who said they read, heard, or saw something about Trump and subtracting the percentage who said the same about Clinton. Then we compared the Trump margin in Gallup’s data to Trump’s margin in the polling averages. It should be noted that, on average, Trump has had slightly more net attention than Clinton by a five percentage point margin in Gallup’s measure…” In addition,

…Each candidate received gobs of attention during their party conventions, which complicates any analysis. So if we look at time periods after the convention, it’s easier to sort out who is going through spells of greater or lesser attention from the public. For the period from Aug. 1 (the Democratic convention ended on July 28) to now, the correlation is moderately strong — just above .5 — for all four polling averages. During this time, when one of the nominees has garnered notably more attention, always for negative revelations, that candidate has suffered…

Also, “Clinton and Trump have the highest unfavorable ratings of any major party nominees in modern history, notes Skelley. “Thus, when one has been in the news a good deal more than the other, it has usually been because of negative stories (outside of some convention coverage).”

Noting that “modern media coverage, especially in the Trump-Clinton contest, tends to be fairly negative,” Skelley concludes that “there is sufficient evidence to say that the 2016 presidential election has two highly disliked major party nominees who seem to perform worse the more attention they attract.”

Three weeks out, Clinton seems to be holding a lead in the polling average of about 5 points. And, while the horserace polls have shifted subtly with the media’s focus on the troubles of one presidential candidate over the other, it appears that Trump’s media coverage has been significantly more damaging overall. This may not apply quite as well to future presidential campaigns. But it looks like Trump is proving that the “any publicity is good publicity” notion is a bad premise for media strategy in politics.

CAP Experts: Demographic, Voting Trends Favor Clinton

In an update to last year’s groundbreaking report, new analysis from demographers Ruy Teixeira, John Halpin, and Rob Griffin released today explores in detail the national and state-level demographic and voting trends as they exist following the first presidential debate. “The Path to 270, Revisited” takes into consideration the possible influence of factors such as a potentially large third-party vote, a widening gender gap, and differentials in campaign effort levels, as well as the basic strategies both parties need to deploy in order to achieve victory.

“Five weeks to go in the campaign and nearly all signs that analysts look at point to a victory for Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in both the popular vote and the Electoral College, while Republican nominee Donald Trump is behind nationally and is trailing on average in nearly all of the major battleground states,” said Ruy Teixeira, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the report. “Things currently favoring Clinton are national and state-level polling, President Barack Obama’s rising favorability, the decent if not great state of the economy, campaign fundraising, and on-the-ground infrastructure.”

Interesting trends observed in the analysis include:

  • Demographics: Nationally, the two biggest demographic trends are: 1) the growth in the Hispanic and Asian/Other communities; and 2) the growth in the white, college-educated population. The specifics of each vary by state, but states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Nevada are undergoing fast changes.
  • Gender gap: While there have always been differences between the voting choices of men and women, some of the polling is showing historically large gender gaps. Based on current polling data, the gender gaps for voters—all voters, white college-educated voters, and white non-college-educated voters—will reach historic highs at 38 percent, 36 percent, and 47 percent, respectively.
  • Third-parties’ influence: Though historically these numbers tend to decline before Election Day as partisan loyalties are activated in the electorate, the third-party vote has remained high in polling, and 2016 may buck this trend.

“The analysis of the national popular vote doesn’t bode well for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump,” said John Halpin, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the report. “The racial and ethnic minority vote is highly likely to increase in every swing state and highly likely to favor Clinton as it favored President Obama in 2012, and it appears highly likely that there will be a significant shift among white, college-educated voters in swing states toward Clinton relative to President Obama’s support among these voters in 2012.”

“The Path to 270, Revisited” considers the following questions, and elaborates on these findings:

  • How much demographic change can we expect to see in the 2016 election? Combining observed change in the demographic structure of the eligible electorate with expected turnout rates, CAP experts anticipate that the total racial and ethnic minority share of voters will rise 2 percentage points above its 2012 level, while the white share of voters should decline by 2 percentage points.
  • Will Clinton’s racial and ethnic minority support be as high in 2016 as Obama’s was in 2012? It seems likely that Clinton will match or exceed Obama’s support among minority voters. Clinton holds overwhelming backing from black voters, while Trump’s support from black voters is vanishingly small in many polls. This is in addition to his extreme unpopularity among Latino voters.
  • Will Clinton’s support among college-educated whites hold up relative to Obama’s in 2012? Not only is Clinton holding her ground among white college-educated voters relative to Obama in 2012, she appears to be exceeding the level of support he was able to gain among this demographic. It is important to note that Democrats have not carried college-educated whites in a presidential election for 60 years.
  • Will Trump’s advantage among white, working-class voters be large enough for him to win? To have a decent chance of winning, Trump needs to generate a huge margin among white, working-class voters, but he has only been running at or slightly above Romney’s performance among these voters in 2012.

Read the full analysis here.

Lux: Democrats Will Win By Taking the High Road

The following article by DNC senior advisor Mike Lux, author of The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be, is cross-posted from HuffPo:

We know exactly what Donald Trump’s strategy is: Take this election straight into the gutter, keep it there, and make voters so disgusted that his diehard fanatics — the only ones he has left — will carry the day. That is his only chance, and we shouldn’t let him bring us down to his level. Democrats win by talking about the issues that matter to the American people, and by giving people a reason to vote for them.

Between the public polling already available before the appalling Access Hollywood tape came out, and the stories that have broken since, it is very clear that suburban, college-educated women that were considered the key swing voters at the beginning of this race are now moving solidly to Hillary Clinton’s camp. The question that remains in this race is whether the Democratic base — people of color, unmarried women, Bernie voters, and millennials — will turn out in big numbers to vote for her and other Democrats. And the way we turn them out and get them to vote for Hillary (as opposed to Johnson or Stein, very few are going to vote for Trump) is to give them strong progressive and populist reasons to do so.

Research and analysis by Democracy Corps and Women’s Voices Women’s Vote Action Fund lay this case out very well, and provide a path for Democrats up and down the ballot to turn this into a Democratic wave election:

Millennials are poised to give Hillary Clinton and Democrats a big margin in November’s election if they are engaged to vote and if progressives are smart in dealing with the third party vote. Millennial voters are in a very different place than they were two weeks ago, according to a new web survey of likely millennial voters in the eleven most competitive battleground states…

Democratic millennials have started to consolidate for Clinton, but their Republican contemporaries have not done the same for Trump. Gary Johnson’s millennial vote is now a repository for most of those anti-Trump Republicans. The biggest, genuine problem is whether millennials will vote. The emerging battle over the economy – centered on taxes, trickle down and corporate responsibility – is getting their attention. Millennials are in an anti-corporate mood and desperate for change, and this new focus may move them to the polls on Election Day.

The message that DCorps and WVWVAF recommends corresponds to the populist progressive economic message Hillary has embraced in the two debates and in her terrific speeches on the economy in Warren, MI and Toledo, OH. DCorps and WVWVAF sum it up:

Clinton wants to end the reign of trickle-down economics and raise taxes on the wealthy that have seen all the new income gains so they pay their fair share and so we can invest in the middle class. Trump will enact the biggest tax cut for the one percent in history, including a $4 billion dollar tax break for his family, and make inequality even worse.

It is clear that the voters we need to turn out — especially young people — are populist and progressive to the max. They want millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes. They want to end the destructive cycle of student debt. They want good jobs and good wages and dignity in the workplace. They want Wall Street to be held accountable. And that is exactly what Democrats have said they will do, in our party platform, in speeches all over the country, in the legislation our elected officials have introduced in Congress.

If Democrats and progressive movement leaders alike give those voters a reason to turn out, the data tells us they will respond. With Republicans in open and ugly civil war, a lot of their voters either won’t vote for Trump; won’t vote for the GOP candidates who aren’t supporting Trump; or won’t vote at all. Given that circumstance, a big turnout by young and progressive constituencies will give us a big wave election for Democrats, meaning not only that Hillary wins, but that we win the Senate and, yes, the House too.

So to all my Democratic friends, progressive bloggers, social media mavens, and grassroots activists: don’t spend all your time attacking Trump. I know it is impossible to resist responding to his nastiness sometimes, and we should, but Trump makes the case that he is a bad guy every day, and we shouldn’t be spending all our time telling people what they already know. The key to winning this election is to rise up and remind voters why Democrats deserve their votes, what we stand for, who we are, and what we intend to accomplish if they just give us a chance.

Dems Have Ground Game Edge One Month Out

From “Ground Game: Democrats Started Fall with 5-to-1 Paid Staff Advantage” by Alex Seitz-Wald, Didi Martinez and Carrie Dann at NBC News:

Democrats entered the fall campaign with an army of paid staffers close to five times the size of Republicans’ according to an NBC News analysis of Federal Election Commission filings.

At the end of August, the most recent date for which data is available, Democrats employed at least 4,200 people working to elect Hillary Clinton, with about 800 at the Clinton campaign, 400 at the Democratic National Committee, and nearly 3,000 on the payrolls of state parties in 13 battleground states, which typically employ a majority of field organizers.

Republicans, meanwhile, employed about 880 people during the same period, with about 130 at the Donald Trump campaign, another 270 at the Republican National Committee, and roughly 480 at the 13 state parties.

The authors point out that “the disparity is not dissimilar to 2012” and Republicans claim to have “a head start in deploying national field staffers back in 2013, long before Democrats.” However, in 13 battlegound states analyzed  “The tally also does not reflect the activities of allied outside organizations, such as labor unions, political action committees and interest groups,” nor does it specifiy what the staffers and volunteers of both parties actually do.

Democrats have a clear edge in what is quantifiable about their ‘ground game,’ but data on the quality of the field operations is lacking. Further,

“The RNC’s ground game is far ahead of a Clinton ground game that amounts to a cubicle factory,” chief strategist Sean Spicer said in a memo to reporters last month, adding that “the media has fallen for the Clinton camp’s false narrative that equates having a lot of campaign offices with having a superior field organization.”


Mitch Stewart, who ran the battleground states program for Obama in 2012, argues that volunteers are not replacements for staff, saying the roughly 10,000 top-tier volunteers Obama’s campaign recruited four years ago depended on paid organizers to function. And he said the RNC’s recent hires come too late.

“It’s just too late to build a massive volunteer effort,” he said. “The later you hire staff, the less impact you’re going to see on the number of votes they can get.”

…As of the end of August, Democrats had more than five times the number of staffers than Republicans did on the payrolls of their respective state parties in Florida (about 520 to around 100), more than three times as many in Ohio (about 360 to roughly 90), and roughly ten times as many in Virginia (approximately 270 to 30), Pennsylvania (roughly 450 to 40) and North Carolina (300 to 20).

With the GOP’s new infusion of staff, they’ve cut that disparity to roughly 2-to-1 in Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina, though the gap remains wider in Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Michigan, and Virginia.

It certainly looks like the Trump campaign is betting everything on his ability to mobilize and excite  voters independent of minimal Republican GOTV operations. Put that together with the campaign’s relatively small expenditure on ads thus far, and it appears that Trump ’16 will surely be the most minimalist presidential campaign of the modern era.

That’s an awfully big bet on the power of charisma alone, especially for a candidate who may end up mobilizing more votes against him than for him with his every utterance. It looks like Trump’s best hope would be a combination of Democratic defections to the Libertarians and Greens, coupled with complaisancy about voting on the part of regular Democratic voters. The trend at this political moment is in the opposite direction.